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Pop Preservation Society is record label formed by Victor Stranges, comprised of music professionals, record producers, recording studios, designers, promoters, distributors, business developers and other creatives providing artist services to musicians and other record labels.

Pop Preservation Society services include recording, producing, distribution, live sound production, music promotion, artist development, photography, marketing, design, web and social media, radio servicing and publicity. For PPS, the formula is simple. They work with people they have an affinity for… musically and artistically. They work with emerging and established artists and if you have the talent, drive and wherewithal they would love to connect.

Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips sat down with Pop Preservation Society’s Victor Stranges recently to talk about his background, the label and the services they provide, plus the philosophy they live by.



In the words of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s title from her 1994 Sony music video release, “My Record Company Made Me Do This”….. my PR guy made me write this. Here goes.

As a Melbourne musician and recording artist, I have always felt like an outsider. “Are my songs good enough,” I have pondered. Or “how do we create an impression in the Australian music scene so that my band will get noticed and maybe get signed one day?”

“The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years” is a 1988 documentary film directed by Penelope Spheeris and it so brilliantly demonstrates bad hair and the enthusiasm that young bands experience; a child-like self belief that they are “going to make it.” It is equally hilarious as it is tragic how the late 80s Los Angeles heavy metal scene was no different to the challenges in developing a sustainable music career in my hometown of Melbourne yesterday and today.

Pop Preservation Society was originally the name for an acoustic group I had doing corporate gigs around Melbourne about ten years ago. The name was adapted from The Kinks’ 1968 album, ‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.’ I also previously used to work and manage record stores in the 80s and 90s and I used to be the co-owner of a street music magazine called ‘Etcetera.’ It later became a newsstand magazine.

Always on the outside looking into the music industry. I have successfully played in bands, recorded, engineered, released and marketed independent recordings and promoted shows over the years. I learned how to use Pro Tools and became a record producer in recent times. Unless you have the wherewithal you have to do it all yourself.

The COVID lockdown experience was a time of revision for many in the music business with myself included. I previously had a successful career in the printing, advertising, publishing, direct marketing and graphic arts industries. I was in business development and I wanted to use the skills I had to put together something real in the music industry which I was passionate about.

Content is king. Songwriters, musicians, recording artists and performers are the foundation of the music business, not the other way around. Rent seekers are not in charge unless we give them ownership. Artists are in the business of music. They can have control and ownership of their careers, musical works and digital assets.

After hearing so many horror stories about artist “recuperability” in the industry and the draconian measures used not to pay artists, I decided to start a network of music professionals, record producers, recording studios, designers, promoters, distributors, business developers and other creatives providing artist services to musicians. The idea was that we would look out for each other as independent contractors by supporting one another in those COVID times and beyond. This is a professional network creating real opportunities and work, not a promise to get discovered. That is so tacky. It is now a private company while still retaining its independent network.

What started off as helping out an old radio promotor mate of mine, Michael Matthews, ended up being something a lot bigger. My discussions with Michael were a treasure trove of industry knowledge and jaw dropping uber cool stories about the music business from the early 70s to the present day. I began working an idea to find good producers and studios for clients as well as my own projects. I organised for a young band called Lipstereo to have their first EP recorded by Mark Opitz who has had a tremendous career in the music business, from working with Vanda & Young, AC/DC, Cold Chisel and INXS, to working with Kiss and even Bob Dylan. I was truly humbled and learned a lot from his guidance.

Mark and I were talking about successful bands and the penny dropped for me in our discussions. He said to me that the best football team does not win the World Cup but it’s the one that does everything right, including playing good football. You also need a good PR team to handle problems with the media, a good coach, good membership drive and recruitment processes, a good network, cash flow and so on. Once everything is in place, it’s really only then that you get a shot, maybe. I think it’s the perfect analogy for the music industry yesterday and today.

My philosophy is to start off by helping people, no strings attached. It’s not a strategy I use to “get the business” but it’s a bona fide offer to be involved in a project because I like it. I am 52 years of age and my father died when he was 51. Life is too short to be involved in projects that are lifeless, even if they pay extremely well.

So that’s what I do, which is help people in their projects and they somehow come back to benefit me in the future. I often foot the cost for demos or releases of my own bat. I will only do that with people I trust and really believe in. By assisting people and giving of myself I have found that it opens doors for me so I feel privileged to develop a network of talented people and help them achieve their business and artistic goals. I encourage them not to let go of their ownership rights.

We started off as an artist services business and we recently decided to call ourselves a label as we are actually releasing digital and physical product now. Pop Preservation Society now utilises the services of many people under its umbrella including two PR people based in Melbourne. Serial entrepreneur and owner of music venue, Jimmy Hornet, Anthea Palmer, now handles international marketing and publicity for the company. Michael Matthews Media handles radio strategy as well as PR throughout Australia with some international established contacts he services.

Matthews signed Australian Crawl, was instrumental in breaking Killing Heidi and made Savage Garden an international number one smash. He has worked with David Bowie, Duran Duran, Iron Maiden, Slim Dusty, Russell Morris and countless other huge names in the business. He does not rest on his laurels and has never stopped working in the business.

I have an in house designer and strategy team, I utilise Thirty Mill Studios for recordings with engineer, Colin Wynne (Casanovas, INXS, Jeff Lang), as well as my own studio. I develop projects with Mark Opitz as well. We have an A&R team (remember those?) and we actually go to a lot of gigs which is still very exciting. We love the new era in music as it’s not as tribal and the industry has been cleaned out a lot since I started playing pubs in the mid 80s.

A team of young talented photographers and media production teams such as Brittany Long and Kallum Wimalasuriya have been capturing some amazing footage and documenting the label’s growing profile. We are serious about raising the awareness of our artists and so we utilise street poster and brochure distribution companies for boots on the ground awareness. We are under contract with a music marketing agency in Nashville which guides our artists’ social media strategies and content creation for Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram and the like. We also do a lot of social media advertising.

We have a live events team with experienced production managers that have worked with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan and even Prince.

We even recently worked with a young film director for an extraordinary music video shoot for a song called ‘Cola’ by Saturday’s Child. We literally had a cast and crew of over 20 people that worked on that project. We are self funded and we pay people well because we believe that designers and artists need to be recognised for their good work. We have a philosophy that artists should be encouraged to keep ownership of their creative works and reduce as much friction as possible from the counter party risk from a legacy industry relationship. Not everyone is out to get you but why not be the master of your own destiny?

We are building a story for our artists. It’s about the music. We recently achieved great success, surprisingly, in international radio markets in the US, UK, Europe, South America and even Africa! We have worked with local media and radio programmers but we find the industry can at times be somewhat myopic here. On the whole I truly believe that radio in Australia are followers, not leaders. It’s not a dig at them but some radio networks only support music that’s already broken before it even gets played. That seems ridiculous. Any healthy business owner will tell you that the hardest part of the business is developing new business and so many steer away from that risk but the result is not expansive in terms of what they could achieve for the industry and their own businesses.

It was Frank Zappa that opined that musicians were better off with the cigar chomping industry executives that “looked at the product and came and said, ‘I don’t know! Who knows what it is? Record it, stick it out. If it sells, alright!” than with modern day industry executives who think that they are the final arbiters of good taste and gate keep the industry. That entrepreneurial spirit is sadly missing.

Our country is so caught up in a limited range of classic stations mixed with hit stations but very few break new acts. I can’t even think of one commercial station in Australia that has a AAA format. We used to have it good here in Melbourne in the 80s with the likes of EON FM breaking new artists. Sadly those days are over. So we look to overseas as it’s a big world out there. It is a sad state of affairs that when commercial talkback staton 3AW has more listeners than Triple J in Melbourne between the ages of 18 and 24. I mean, what is going on? The kids know.

It was Bruce Springsteen that once said, “Elvis freed your body, Bob Dylan freed your mind.” We are unique as humans. I believe in the triune spirit. You know, mind, body and spirit. If God gave rock n’ roll to us and rock ’n’ roll gave us the answers to the body and the mind, I think it will give us answers to what our spirit is yearning for. I believe that we desire a true connection and want cool music that is real. Gospel music was one of the foundations of rock ’n’ roll. I am not talking about a religious Hillsong type experience, I am talking about something completely new that’s going to shatter the current industry.

As sure as you’re standing there, I believe something will come that is really left of field that no one can see coming. I can’t put my finger on it but I know it’s coming. I have been to so many gigs recently and I feel it. And when it rains, I don’t even think the industry will have enough hats to catch it in. That’s what I want to be a part of.

Pop Preservation Society is a Melbourne record label offering artist services to musicians and partner solutions for the music industry. We offer production, distribution, marketing and music consultancy services for developing and established artists.

Below: Lipstereo perform their single ‘Feedback’

Below: Saturday’s Child  ‘Cola’ video feat Ema Jay on vocals


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